Havelock commissioners addressed parking concerns in front of businesses along the service road adjacent to U.S. 70 on Monday night.
During certain evenings, those attending classes at Premier Martial Arts, located at 471 U.S. 70 East, have been parking along the service road in front of the business.
Havelock Police Chief G. Wayne Cyrus said parking along the shoulder of the service road violates city parking regulations. He said officers had not ticketed vehicles because the area is not marked with no parking signs.
He said though original plans called for 24 parking spaces at the business, stormwater rules requiring a retention pond caused the removal of six of those spaces.
Mayor Jimmy Sanders said children had been seen running from parked cars to the business across the service road, which has a speed limit of 45 mph.
Sanders said he and the board didn’t want to get involved in the issue but said the safety of children could not be ignored.
"I hate to do this, but I would also hate for a child to get hit by a car," Sanders said. "That’s the part that we would have to live with."
Commissioner Danny Walsh said that any place with children’s activities could have parking problems because so many extended family members are interested in coming out to see the children.
City planner Katrina Marshall said the city alerted the business to the problems in December. The problems typically arise on Mondays and Wednesdays when children’s and adult classes are being held, she said, adding that the city had asked the owners to consider a rearrangement in class times.
‘The board has stepped up to the plate and will take appropriate action unless he does," Sanders said.
That action could be the posting of signs.
"The average person would have to believe that if it’s not posted then it’s probably not illegal," Sanders said.
Cyrus said that if the area was posted, then cars would be ticketed.
Walsh said he thought targeting one business over another was not fair, adding that the nearby McDonald’s sometimes has vehicles parked along service road.
"If you do it for one, you have to do it for all," he said.
Commissioner Will Lewis said drivers needed to be educated about the parking rules.
"Do we educate them with a sign or with a letter?" he said.
Commissioner George Liner said the problem had arisen because the city was not strict enough.
Cyrus said 55 signs, placed between 100 and 150 feet apart, would be needed to cover the two miles of the service road. Commissioners balked at spending $10,000 toward signs until business owners could be written letters about parking.
"In 30 days we’re going to start writing tickets," Walsh said.
The board agreed to send letters out and revisit the issue during its Aug. 26 meeting.
"Cite these people," said Commissioner Karen Lewis. "They won’t park there again."
The owner of Premiere Martial Arts did not attend Monday night’s meeting.